Chamier, Anthony (DNB00)


CHAMIER, ANTHONY (1725–1780), friend of Dr. Johnson, was the descendant of Daniel Chamier, minister of the reformed church of France, and the grandson of a second Daniel Chamier, a minister of the same church, who, after the revocation of the edict of Nantes, sought refuge in England, and officiated in several French protestant churches in London. He was born on 6 Oct. 1725, and baptised in the Walloon chapel, Threadneedle Street, London, on 19 Oct., his parents being a third Daniel Chamier and Susanne de la Mejanelle. Early in life he was engaged on the Stock Exchange, a circumstance which his enemies in later years did not allow him to forget. His wife was Dorothy, daughter and coheiress of Robert Wilson, merchant, of St. Mary Axe, London, and her sister married Thomas Bradshaw, who, from an under-clerkship in the war office, became private secretary to the Duke of Grafton, and joint secretary of the treasury in the Chatham and Grafton administrations. To this connection Chamier was indebted for his start in life. He obtained a place in the public service, and in January 1772 was raised by Lord Barrington to the post of deputy secretary at war. This advancement brought down upon Chamier the anger of Philip Francis, who attacked the appointment in the coarsest language both in his private correspondence and in letters to the newspapers; and as many of the productions in the public prints are believed to have been written by the author of the letters signed Junius, this attack has largely contributed to foster the belief that Francis was Junius. Chamier was created under-secretary of state for the southern department in 1775, and on 10 June 1778 was returned to parliament for the borough of Tamworth. On 11 Sept. 1780, a month and a day before his death, he was re-elected by the same constituency. He died in Savile Row, London, on 12 Oct. 1780, and was buried at St. James's, Piccadilly. He left no issue, and his property passed by will to his nephew, John Deschamps, with a testamentary injunction to take the name and arms of the Chamier family.

Chamier was an original member in 1764 of the Literary Club, and Dr. Johnson, when drawing up his scheme of a university at St. Andrews, assigned to him the chair of ‘commercial politics.’ His country house was at Streatham, and Johnson used frequently to visit there, and within its walls he passed his seventieth birthday. The doctor applied to Chamier in 1777 for assistance in aiding the unhappy Dr. Dodd, and when Henry Welch, who succeeded Fielding as magistrate for Westminster, was driven from ill-health to a warmer climate, it was through Chamier's interest that Johnson procured for him leave of absence without stoppage of pay. Chamier sat to Sir Joshua Reynolds thrice (December 1762, January 1767, and November 1777), and the two houses in which the great painter liked best to spend his leisure hours were those of the Hornecks and Chamier.

[Boswell's Johnson (ed. 1835), ii. 271, iv. 112, vi. 210, 254, vii. 40, 85; Parkes's Sir P. Francis, i. 273–8; Courthope's Daniel Chamier and his Descendants, pp. 53–5; Agnew's Protestant Exiles from France, ii. 246, 294–5; Leslie and Taylor's Sir Joshua Reynolds, i. 219, 228, 237, 250, ii. 203, 386; Gent. Mag. October 1780, p. 495.]

W. P. C.